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Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
September 14, 1998


Last week an editorial in this newspaper stated that the best way to deal with man's destructiveness is with more of the same. Claiming that the best way to protect natural habitats is to blast them, the editorial championed the Morrow Development Corporation's decision to alter the San Marcos Creek as it runs through Carlsbad's Box Canyon.

Now for those of you unfamiliar with Box Canyon, it is a steep gorge just east of La Costa that features a trio of pools. The south side of the western pond is ideal for jumping. Long before La Costa was developed local youth would trek down into the canyon for what was an idyllic form of recreation. Swimming holes have always been a part of the rural lifestyle, and this was no different.

Getting into the canyon was part of the experience. The path was steep and not for the faint of heart. But once in the canyon the charm of the spot was evident. And aside from the impact of human presence, the natural beauty still persisted. I have to admit that I occasionally enjoyed spending an afternoon jumping and basking with friends. This was a rite of passage for my friends and I.

In the early eighties residents of the nearby neighborhood started complaining about traffic, noise, and other things related to youth culture. And those of us who ventured down had to avoid confrontation with the new residents and the authorities. Which was never hard to do if one was so inclined. But then again, we all know how turf wars are. "Not in my back yard" often includes others who are seen as undesirable.

Citing liability considerations, and the expense of hiring security, the proponents of the blasting are trying to justify an agenda of environmental destruction which has more to do with corporate convenience than environmental protection. Another reason given for blasting is discouraging trespassers who are prone to leave trash and spray paint.

Sure there is litter and graffiti covers the north wall of the pool. Ironically, the word Hendrix graces the fatal jumping spot. Regulars knew that jumping from the Hendrex side was suicide. The safe side was scary enough. And from what I understand, all the fatalities included alcohol. Once again suicidal tendencies were in play.

My question is; what does more damage to the native habit, a body hitting the rocks, or the rock being blasted away in an attempt to prevent someone from jumping from the said rock.

Now don't get me wrong. I support preventing human traffic from impacting the canyon. This fragile environment and the biotic community that inhabits it should be preserved as part of the Multi Species Conservation plan in it's 700 acre entirety. I just don't think dynamite is the answer. I understand that the the City of Carlsbad has declared that Box Canyon has no scenic value, which is odd considering it is being considered for a habitat preserve. I also understand that both the Army Corps of Engineers and the California Dept. of Fish and Game has signed off on the project, which is not surprising considering that they have approved other projects the have severely affected the riparian wetland known as the San Marcos Creek.

Let's face it folks. Nature is once again under attack. And no amount of green washing by proponents are going to obscure that fact.

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